We had a great introduction to the city of Xi’an. Excellent dumplings and finally some non-greasy vegetables made up our first dinner. We enjoyed wandering through the busy and narrow alleyways of the Muslim quarter as it has the feeling that it hasn’t changed in forever and really gives a sense of being somewhere different. All I bought through the markets was a small bag of dried kiwi fruit.
On our following day we took a long bus trip to Mount Hua. We stopped to visit an old walled city, which is essentially a small version of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Since we haven’t seen the famous one, we still enjoyed our visit. We took a gondola high up the mountain to where we would climb ridiculously steep rock cut stairs, with chains providing support for people to make their way safely. Years ago walking in this area was incredibly dangerous with small wooden planks nailed into the sides of sheer cliffs and stairs so narrow people couldn’t pass one another. The scenery was beautiful and it was a great hike. Our trip back to the city took forever as we took side roads avoiding traffic on the highway. We were lost a couple times and the bus stopped for directions.
Today we went to see what the region is so famous for, the Qin Terra Cotta Warriors. I loved seeing them up close. It is incredible that all 8000 statues are completely unique. This is a place that will be worth returning to in another ten years. They have finally found a way to preserve the original lacquer paint on the warriors and will start uncovering remaining finds to preserve them in their original colours. All the ones unearthed lost their 2000 year old paint to oxidation within days of exposure. In addition the Qin mausoleum and underground city with all of its treasures has yet to be excavated and when it is done, it is expected to become a new world wonder. Leanne, not a fan of having her photo taken, was asked by some Chinese tourists (likely from an area without tourists) to pose with a lady and her child. Leanne thought they wanted her to take their photo, but they wanted a photo showing they had been up close with a foreigner. So Leanne obliged and will now be forever in a family’s photo collection.
We had the local Pao Mo (a kind of lamb and bread stew) for dinner and following this I went on top of the city walls and hired a bike to ride in the dark a quarter of the way around the city before needing to bring it back. Tomorrow we are doubling back to Hong Kong for a night. It lets us skip an overnight train and is necessary for us to renew our China visa for the second half of our stay in the diverse country.